Foundation inducts Champions

Twenty-five teachers with a passion for ensuring New Zealand students have the knowledge and understanding to be equipped to thrive in Asia came together in Auckland this month to be inducted as the first cohort of Asia New Zealand Foundation Champions.

Educators talk about why they joined the Champions programme and what they hope to get out of it

The newly established  Champions  programme is a professional and collaborative initiative for educators to build their Asia knowledge and to act as amplifiers and role models to ensure Asia competencies are valued in New Zealand schools. 

“We know how important Asia is to New Zealand  – economically, socially and culturally – and this is only going to increase,” says the Foundation’s education director Sean O’Connor. 

“For New Zealand to make the most of the opportunities Asia presents, we need teachers who recognise the importance of the region and ensure they are supported to develop their knowledge and share it with students and colleagues.” 

Teachers sitting at tables listening to a speaker

The Foundation Champions come from schools from throughout New Zealand

The Foundation established the Champions programme in order to provide a more targeted approach to supporting New Zealand schools to include Asia components to the curriculum. 

“We realised we could have a greater impact by focusing our efforts on a number of educators who are highly engaged with the Foundation’s mission and by supporting their enthusiasm to spread their Asia expertise,” O’Connor says. 

As well as meeting and getting to know each other, the induction was an opportunity for the educators to learn about the Foundation and brainstorm ideas about how they want the programme to develop. 

“The role of the Foundation is to facilitate connections and learning opportunities for the Champions – but what we hope is the Champions themselves will take the lead and work collaboratively to share their expertise and develop initiatives,” O’Connor says.

A group of teachers passing an orange from hand to hand as part of a warm-up game

The induction gave the educators a chance to break the ice and learn a bit about their fellow Champions

Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tāwhiuau, Murupara, teacher Lianne Bird says she applied to become a Foundation Champion to join a network of people who recognised the importance of Asia to their students.

“From a cultural perspective, learning about Asian cultures leads to having a better appreciation of your own culture.

“No matter what sector you think about, Asia is leading...the innovation that comes from that region – there are so many career opportunities for young people”.